The Supreme Court to Hear Important Prayer Case - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Supreme Court to Hear Important Prayer Case
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The propaganda sloshing through public schools grows more toxic with each passing year. Students are increasingly subject to corrupting pressure under the guise of education. Liberal activists masquerading as teachers push condoms on students and urge impressionable and confused children to undergo transgender surgery. But the same public school districts that permit such abuses of education forbid teachers and coaches to pray in the presence of students.

The Supreme Court is set to hear a case in the spring that addresses this ludicrous imbalance in public schools. The case involves a football coach at a public high school in the state of Washington who was fired in 2015 for praying after games. The coach, Joseph Kennedy, prayed alone at first, but then some of his players voluntarily joined him. A bumptious opposing coach saw this popular practice and complained to Kennedy’s bosses. They sacked him after he refused to stop praying.

It is a sign of our twisted times that such an innocent and laudable practice as a post-game prayer could even become a Supreme Court controversy.

Justice Samuel Alito pushed the Supreme Court to hear the case, saying that the lower court rulings against Kennedy could “be understood to mean that a coach’s duty to serve as a good role model requires the coach to refrain from any manifestation of religious faith — even when the coach is plainly not on duty.”

It is a sign of our twisted times that such an innocent and laudable practice as a post-game prayer could even become a Supreme Court controversy. The Founding Fathers established the First Amendment not to remove religious expression from public life but to protect it. After all, they prayed at the convention that drew up the Constitution. Presidents from Washington to Lincoln proclaimed national days of prayer, fasting, and thanksgiving. To this day, we can see the remnants of this legacy — a chaplain in Congress, national prayer breakfasts to which presidents go, currency that reads “In God We Trust,” and so forth.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that anyone even thought to challenge the obvious intentions of the Founding Fathers. The corruption of public schools can be traced to that era’s warped jurisprudence, which turned the First Amendment’s protection of the religious into a bizarre protection against them. In 1962, an activist Supreme Court banned voluntary prayer in public schools in the landmark case Engel v. Vitale, striking down a prayer that could not have been more innocuous: “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessing upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our Country.”

Justice Potter Stewart, who dissented from his colleagues in the case, said that they had deformed the First Amendment. “The Court has misapplied a great constitutional principle,” he said. “I cannot see how an ‘official religion’ is established by letting those who want to say a prayer say it. On the contrary, I think that to deny the wish of these school children to join in reciting this prayer is to deny them the opportunity of sharing in the spiritual heritage of our nation.”

The secularism dominant in America today owes much to that awful ruling. Out of it came a tyranny of the minority — ACLU-style activists who couldn’t rest until government at every level was scrubbed clean of any connection to theism. The consequences of America’s transformation from a Judeo-Christian nation to a strictly secularist one are unfolding before our eyes. In that America, a coach is more likely to be fired for praying with his players than imposing transgenderism on them.

Coach Kennedy’s case is an opportunity for the Supreme Court to rectify its decades-long misreading of the First Amendment. The notion that public schools have a constitutional duty to “protect” students against prayer is absurd and ahistorical. Parents have many legitimate fears about public schools these days. The exposure of their children to a pious coach is not one of them.

It speaks volumes that Bremerton School District, which fired Kennedy, is represented by Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a group that has long pressed for a radical reinterpretation of the Constitution.  “It’s a very dangerous day in America to think of all the school children across this country where schools are supposed to welcome children, feeling alienated and potentially ostracized if they don’t pray to play,” she has said. Never mind that there is no evidence Kennedy forced any of his players to participate in the prayer.

The supposed wall of separation between church and state to which Laser’s group refers is a fiction. The phrase doesn’t appear in the Constitution. It comes from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson, who didn’t attend the Constitutional Convention. He was in France at the time. But even Jefferson wouldn’t construe that phrase as Laser does — as a requirement that government remain neutral at all times between theism and atheism. Such neutrality contradicts the Constitution itself, which exists to protect God-given rights, one of which is the right to pray in public.

George Neumayr
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George Neumayr, a senior editor at The American Spectator, is author most recently of The Biden Deception: Moderate, Opportunist, or the Democrats' Crypto-Socialist?
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